"The Straight 8 Returns"
In the continuing saga of our '36 Packard Coupe, we have been waiting for our engine work to be completed. The machine work was done by Dutcher Engineereing in Massachusetts, so the return shipping of the crankcase, crank, and all rotating parts has been a real worry. Then, mid-October, I received a call from Steve Dutcher with GOOD NEWS! The engine was ready and they would deliver it! What a break! That weekend, it arrived with everything carefully wrapped and crated, and all the parts looked great!
We had built a 4x4 worktable to accommodate the 2-piece block and crankcase. The crank had been turned and the mains and rods had been set up for modern insert bearings. The mains and crank were already installed when they were delivered to us. The flywheel bolts and main seals (2 wooden sticks) have to be put in when the crank is installed. We then put the cam and cam gear in. With the rocker arm assemblies off, it just pushed in and bolted down. There is a 2-piece center brass bearing that goes together with screws, which must be carefully fitted around the cam and tightened in place. (Reverse the process when removing-forcing it will break the bearing!)
With the can in, we set the timing marks, then installed the distributor gear. This is done by putting the gear in through the top with the mark facing the cam, then the oil pump drive shaft bushing is installed in the top of the block with the nipple facing the passenger side (this will allow the distributor to sit in position). We put the block and the crankcase together, cleaning both surfaces with mineral spirits and installing our new block to crankcase gasket. When we laid the gasket down, we discovered the oiler holes were all off 1/2" on the gasket. We re-punched the holes and coated the gasket front and back with old style Indian Head gasket shellac. (We don't want silicone anywhere near the oiler holes!) The gasket is a generic one used for '35-'39 engines. "37-'39 used this kind, but '36 and back had the holes positioned differently. It pays to work slowly and fit everything twice.
The cylinders had already been honed and the block cleaned and flushed, but when we washed out the water port at the oil cooler, we found two 3/8" bolts inside the block! You never know what you'll find!
We were now ready for the new pistons. The cylinders were wiped clean with mineral spirits and the pistons were fitted on the rods so that the oiler holes in the rods were on the same side as the slit in the pistons. This side faced the cam when installed in the block. This allows the oil to run up that side and oil the cam. The rings were installed then, staggering each compression ring slit 180 degrees. The clearance is .0025 and the ring end gap (which is the distance of the break in the ring when installed in the block), must be checked with a feeler gauge. Our gap was .014, which was in tolerance. If the gap is too close, you will probably break a ring when the engine expands when it is hot.
The rods can not be fitted down through the top of the cylinders, so we pushed them up from the crankcase and attached them to the pistons on top, then, using a ring compressor, we tapped them into place, inserting new rod bearings and torquing them to 45 ft. lbs. The cotter pins aligned perfectly. We were now ready to put on the oiler tree (supplies oil to all bearings and oil pump), and install the oil pump. All new gaskets and lock washers were used and each nut snugged down, but not tightened until all had equal pressure, and none broke. We then installed the timing chain. The generator runs on this in a '36, but was changed to the fan belt system in the '37. The timing is set by aligning the 2 "O's" on the crank gear and cam gear. Then an oil splasher cup goes on the crank (cup out) before the timing cover goes on. We installed new gaskets, coated the stud holes with Indian Head sealer and used new lock washers and nuts, then bolted on the oil pan with the same process. Now for the head. As you know from previous articles, the head had been re-surfaced and the combustion chambers cc'd for uniform compression. With a new copper head gasket, the head nuts were tightened in 3 stages: first to 20, then 40, then 64 ft. lbs. After the car is started and has gone through 3 heat cycles, they will be re-torqued. The engine was now painted and all external parts, having been rebuilt, were now installed. The engine was then put on the engine lift and put in the car, but that's another story!
Our special thanks to Charles Butts, advisor Dan Malumphy, Steve at Dutcher Engineering (413-773-3973), and Joe Rabelskie at Motorvation (706-539-9965), and everyone who helped to get us this for a Happy Thanksgiving. Keep 'em driving!